First plants on moon, China says it has done the job


Greenery is coming for outer space: China's Chang'e 4 mission seeds have become the first plants to sprout on the moon's surface.

In an attempt to better understand how plants and animals could grow and live on the lunar surface, Chongqing University equipped the Chang'e 4 lander with a "mini-biosphere" experiment, which is created to be a self-sustaining ecosystem, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.

Cotton seeds have reportedly just sprouted in an experiment aboard China's Chang'e 4 moon lander. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station regularly tend plants to study how growth changes in microgravity (and to diversify astronaut diets in space), and plants and seeds have orbited Earth on and off throughout spaceflight history.

The items inside the canister act as 'producers, consumers, and decomposers in the micro-ecosystem, head of the experiment, Professor Liu Hanlong, told the South China Morning Post. This will take place in the enclosed canister and will not affect the lunar environment, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) stated. China's self-contained miniature biosphere includes seeds for plants like cotton, potatoes, rapeseed, and yeast, along with fruit fly eggs.

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With the success of the cotton underway, China plans to continue its plans for further space exploration The goal of the next moon probe will be to bring samples of the moon back to Earth.

The 2011 Wolf Amendment, motivated by security concerns, bans NASA scientists from working with Chinese citizens affiliated to a Chinese state enterprise or entity. And because lunar eclipses can occur only during a full moon - and the first full moon in January is known as a "wolf moon" - many are calling this spectacular event a "Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse". "Whether the probe will land on the near side or the far side of the moon, we will make the decision according to the performance of Chang'e 5", he said.

While human beings have grown plants in space before, they've never attempted to grown one on the moon. Meanwhile, sprouts in an Earth-based control experiment were shown to be evidently performing much better. Among those organisms aboard the lander are seeds that could be the foundation for human settlement.

China has announced ambitious new plans in space, including building a base on the Moon and sending a probe to Mars.